December is traditionally the start of Christmas festivities, but for many firms, it’s when staff realise they’ve not taken all their holiday entitlement in time, or that there isn’t sufficient cover for businesses – which can cause huge complications for workforce planning.
Christmas – it’s supposed to be the most magical time of the year – but for many staff and organisations, it's arguably the most disruptive time of the year too.
Perhaps the arrival of advent calendars focuses the mind. Because in December, businesses suddenly see a surge in people realising they’ve got use-it-or-lose it annual leave that must be taken.
According to research, up to a third of employees have not taken their full holiday entitlement during the year1 – meaning a last-minute rush to remedy the situation becomes an unwelcome annual event for thousands of firms who must suddenly redraw rotas to make sure it’s business as usual until the real holidays start (77% of businesses run their holiday periods from January-end of December).
Even for firms that run their holiday entitlements from midway through the year, the Christmas period can be just as unpredictable. Not only will staff still start to tot up what they have (or haven’t) got left and decide the holiday season is the perfect chance to start to unwind, there’s the perennial problem of increased absence at this time of year – whether it’s due to partying excess or simply increased coughs and colds that winter time brings. All-told, the holiday season isn’t so much a party, but a problem. As clashes occur between colleagues fighting for the same time off, HR departments suddenly have to play referee.
No holiday, no engagement
So what’s the answer? Firms could decide to play hardball. Legally, employees aren’t entitled to take leave whenever they want to. Businesses are perfectly able to insist that during certain periods – such as in the run-up to Christmas – holiday is restricted for continuity reasons. But really? The hit to staff engagement could be catastrophic – especially if staff already feel they’ve been unable to take their leave earlier because of the demands of their job.
A far better solution is absence management technology. Pre-Christmas panic caused by holiday bottlenecks are perfectly preventable with technology that can seamlessly manage this. With solutions such as Appogee Leave, firms can regain control by setting their own rules for leave approval. They can provide their employees with simple-to-use dashboards that allow for requests to made ahead of time. They can also alert managers ahead of time about clashes, and help them plan their headcount needs better at critical times.
HR management systems make life easier for all
Technology doesn’t just make life simpler for managers who need to ensure there is at least skeleton-level of cover over the holidays.
It also helps staff themselves manage their own work and personal lives better during the festive period. For while there are plenty of staff left in a rush to use up their holiday, many don’t manage to do it in time. Data shows around 40% of staff (according to a recent study by Glassdoor2), only take half of their annual leave entitlement during the Christmas break. It also reveals the average employee only takes 62% of their Christmas holiday allowance. Maybe they weren’t able to get their holiday in before someone else; maybe they thought they had less holiday left than they actually did – but whatever the reason, if staff are left having to work when everyone else isn’t, it breeds resentment.
Leave management technology gives staff a visual indication of precisely how much holiday they have, so they can plan their relaxation time better.
Technology can prevent staff from getting to a point in the year where they’ve left it too late to take what is rightfully owed to them. With research suggesting that only half of employees actually take all their annual leave allowance (with the average employee only taking 77% of his or her leave each year3), it means most staff are literally giving away around six days’ holiday a year. Give staff a system that shows them what they’ve taken, and what’s still left, and firms can avoid the disengagement that losing holiday creates.
So, while this year at least, you might well find staff reliving a few nightmares of Christmas-past (of them losing their holiday), isn’t it about time you made sure your employees’ Christmas futures created fewer feelings of humbug and more feelings of happiness? You can easily do it by investing in some management tech. This is a Christmas present to all that keeps on giving.